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Design-Thinking for the Creative Product Manager

You may have heard a lot of buzz lately around design thinking. Read on to learn about the basics of this problem-solving framework and how it can help Product Managers work smarter and innovate more successfully.

How it Works

Put simply, design thinking is a systematic approach to finding the right solution to a given issue. Whether that issue is building out a new product feature, collaborating with a new vendor, or telling your company’s story, the emphasis here is on defining, testing, and evaluating each potential solution. Mastering this method can lead to a more replicable, scalable, and consumer-centric final product.

Key Concepts and Takeaways for Product Managers

Get creative

Yes, a lot of the tasks involved in design thinking can feel dry or time-consuming. Perhaps the most important stage, however, is all about thinking outside the box. Even successful professionals can, over time, become susceptible to opting for the tried and true over the new and innovative. That’s why the first step in applying design thinking to any issue is to brainstorm creative solutions, discuss unconventional ideas, and move beyond familiar ways of doing business.

Use a clear and well-organized approach to solving problems

Do you remember the scientific method from grade school? Students were taught to 1. define a question about how X works; 2. form a hypothesis about what is causing X to work that way; 3. predict an outcome that could prove that X actually works that way; 4. design an experiment to test how X works in a controlled setting; and 5. analyze the results to see if the outcome suggests the initial prediction.

Whew! It’s painstaking and requires time, but the lesson our teachers tried to impart early on was that an organized approach leads to accurate and replicable results. The benefit lies in the big picture: an end product that addresses customers’ needs and market dynamics while providing your team with a model of how to do things moving forward.

Weigh many possible options before choosing the right one

An important component of finding the best solution is having a big pool of good options to explore. Team members should be encouraged to draw on their talents and areas of expertise to offer potential answers. It is in the research and analysis phase that the merit of each one will be put to the test, but no idea ought be discarded right off the bat.

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